Written by Chiaki J. Konata and Kazuyoshi Katayama
Directed by Kazuyoshi Katayama
- Production art gallery
- Three episodes
Dindrane’s Anime Warnings:
- Thought-provoking themes
- Socially redeeming value
- Mean people and greedy businessmen
Released by: Bandai
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.
My Advice: Get it.
When it premiered on Cartoon Network in 2001, Big O quickly became one of the most popular anime tales to hit American TV. With its cast: the cool, suave hero; a mysterious, but lovely robot; and a creative and unusual catastrophe, this was one unique series guaranteed to appeal to American tastes.
It is this very American popularly that allowed the sequel series to be born…and who cares whether or not profit was the motivation behind the creation of a series, if the end result is good? Fans of the first season feared that the involvement of an American company, especially a company as big and youth-oriented as Cartoon Network, would ruin the show. They were wrong. The second season is just as complex and thoughtful as the first season, and while there is no more violence than there was before, it doesn’t need mere violence to be exciting and engaging. There is still a bit of comedy mixed in with plenty of drama and wonderfully choreographed mecha battles.
Big O II returns to Paradigm City and our beloved Roger and Dorothy. Three robot invaders, last seen at the end of the first season, have arrived and are set upon a course of destruction. It’s up to Big O to stop them, but Roger loses his identity and must suffer this handicap as he attempts to save his beloved city again. We learn a lot more about what’s happening in the wastes outside Paradigm City, as well as gaining some tantalizing hints about the cataclysm of forty years past and who is really in charge nowadays. New heroes and villains are introduced, and the whole rapidly becomes greater, and more sinister, than the sum of the parts.
The animation is much like that of the first series, so if you liked that gothic, stylized look, then you’ll continue to appreciate the look of the series. However, the budget is higher here, so the production quality is ever better–more like an OAV than a mere TV show. The sound is similarly good, even though the originals were intended to air on the small screen, the digital transfer shows some good usage of directionality and detail. The theme song remains the same from the first season, and its overly dramatic, driving tune suits the feel of the show. Even though this was essentially designed for an American market, the show aired in both American and Japan, so there are both English and Japanese voice tracks; fans of the original Japanese seiyuu will be pleased.
As the show itself is something of a bonus, the features list is slim. We get a nice production art gallery that shows off some of the nicer elements of the show’s moody animation. We also get a selection that features backgrounds that set the stage, the characters, and the mecha.
If you’re a fan of shows like Batman (at least the Timm/Dini variation), then you’ll appreciate Big O II; Roger Smith is, after all, very much like Bruce Wayne. There’s something here for just about any viewer–mystery, action, great mecha combats, complex plotting, and wonderfully real characters. So just forget that this show was paid for by Americans; it’s true to the original and a wonderful inheritor of the title. If you loved the first series, then you’ll likely love this second season even more; this first disc will tease you with answers and more information than we’ve ever had before about the real powers behind Paradigm City and the true identity of Roger Smith.